Why I Can’t Participate in the World Day of Prayer

The World Day of Prayer falls on the 8th of March this year and I will not be in attendance. This paper is my attempt to explain the reasons why I cannot participate. As always, I welcome your feedback, and pray that these thoughts would be carefully and prayerfully considered.

Prayer is an essential activity for the Christian. Every believer should participate in prayer, both privately and corporately.[1] Failure to do so is to live in disobedience and drift from close communion with the Lord. Since prayer is vital to Christian living, and corporate prayer is exemplified in the Scripture, why am I not supportive of The World Day of Prayer? After all, isn’t it a good thing for people to get together to pray? As a pastor, should I not be excited at this movement whose aim is to “bring together people of various races, cultures and traditions in a yearly common Day of Prayer?”[2] Hopefully the thoughts that follow will provide a biblical basis for why I cannot participate in the World Day of Prayer. Read more…



Denominations, Distinctives, & “Babel Theology”

PREACHING TEXT: 1 Timothy 3:15 | READING TEXT: 1 Timothy 3:14-4:16

Let me introduce our subject today by presenting three real-life illustrations that took place this past week.

ILLUSTRATION #1

On Friday, I had occasion to meet with a lawyer in Melbourne for the purpose of updating our church constitution, something I have been promising to do for a couple of years. During this initial meeting, we discussed the “type” of church that we are, some of our distinctives, and even what the differences are between the major denominations. Throughout the conversation it became apparent that this man, like many Christians today, believed It would be so great if everyone could just get on. He expressed a desire to see (what I call) a “Babel Theology” established where all people could “build together”, and all differences set aside for the common good.

ILLUSTRATION #2

Yesterday, I read an article published on the Baptist Union of Victoria Website which was written by the Pastor of Koondrook-Barham Baptist Church.[1] My intention in reading this article is not to assassinate anybody’s character, not is it pass unnecessary or unscriptural judgement, but rather to give you an illustration for what we are going to consider today.

The Pastor writes:

On Christmas Eve 2019 the Koondrook-Barham Baptist Church joined with the local Anglican, Catholic and Uniting Churches to present Carols by Candlelight at Riverside Park, Barham.

Bernard Blumel, pastor of the Baptist Church welcomed everyone. Scripture readings and prayers were presented by the Anglican and Uniting Churches and a message of hope was delivered by Father Stan from the Catholic Church. At the end of the night the Lions Club conveyed their thanks to the Churches for the great community event and invited us to join them Christmas Eve 2020.

ILLUSTRATION #3

Since my Glorious Gospel Website[2] went live, I have been the subject of enormous hostility. Now I expect that from the world, but when so-called Christians stand in active defiance to the clear teaching of Scripture, my soul is sorely vexed. A man whose name I will not mention publicly, who is a retired pastor and chaplain, started messaging me privately during the week. He was initially cordial towards me, but after a few interactions, changed into a blaspheming, swearing, antagonistic detractor. He accused me of all manner of things in some of the most colourful language I have ever heard, all in the name of Christ. His “beef” with me was my biblical standpoint on cultural issues, and my unwillingness to embrace the “modern world” with it concepts and practices.

INTRODUCTION

Over the past 8 years of pastoring MCCBC, I have been given all manner of labels from other church groups in our community. I keep these in a folder in my filing cabinet. I have been called: The “fuddy duddy”, hyper-calvinist, extremist, fanatical, radical, Biblicist, misguided, heretical, exclusive, cult leader, and my favourite: old-fashioned-Bible-thumping-wingnut.

Over the years, I have been asked: Why won’t we “join” up with other churches? Why can’t we have a “united front”? Why can’t we be part of a combined church Carols event? Why don’t I get behind “Christian organisations”? Do I think that MCCBC is the only true church?

Some have told me that denominations and distinctives are the enemy because Christ called us to unity; doctrine divides, love unites. Pastors have said, only preach that which is encouraging so that people in the community would feel welcome, don’t preach about issues that divide, be culturally sensitive.

The way I see it, the pastor has three main jobs: (1) Define the Faith by means of evangelism and preaching; (2) Develop the Faith in God’s people by means of clear exegetical teaching and preaching and; (3) Defend the faith by warns of warning and exhorting the flock based upon sound biblical truths and principles.

As a pastor, I do not answer to you, but to the Lord. I am not primarily concerned with whether you like what I say or whether it makes you “feel” good. I am not worried about whether the community consider me to be a nutcase, or whether other churches would speak ill of me. If I were concerned about polls of popularity, I would not be a pastor. I am primarily concerned with the truth, and teaching you how to discern right from wrong, so that you might honour Christ with your life.

The greatest problem in the church today is a lack of discernment. This exists because the church (on the whole) has moved away from the inerrancy and sufficiency of the Scriptures. As you will see from our text, the church is not living up to its biblical identity as the pillar and buttress of the truth. In general terms, it is more like a cubby house made of cardboard which is blown about by every wind of doctrine. It moves with every cultural stir, the breeze of every new idea, and the movements it incurs, are not Holy Spirit sent, but are the devil’s breath.

Today there is a tendency to think of Christianity in the reduced terms of Christ’s death and resurrection. Whilst that is part of the gospel, it is decidedly much more than that. The true Christian life is a confession of truth and faith (1 Timothy 3:16), a proclamation of God’s Word, a seeking after the “Kingdom of God and His righteousness” (Matthew 6:33).

I love the church; I’ve given my life, gifts, energy, finance to the church. God has called me to pastor a local church, and it is the great joy of my life. It is because I love the church and the Word of God that I must speak out against all that seeks to stand opposed to either.

This morning I want to teach on a subject I’ve entitled: “Church Denominations & Distinctions and Babel Theology”.

CHURCH BEHAVIOUR MATTERS

I hope to come to you soon, but I am writing these things to you so that, if I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth. 1 Timothy 3:14-15

BehaveVerb. “to act or conduct oneself in accord with a defined standard.”

The purpose of Paul’s writing to Timothy was to give clear direction as to the type of behaviour that God demanded from His church.

The context speaks specifically of the meeting together as a local church but can also be applied in the broader sense of individual church member’s behaviour.

Clearly, Paul sees the church behaviour as an essential truth because he writes an entire letter about it.

What we do, how we do it, and why we do it, is so important to understand.

Practicalities:

  • How we worship?
  • Who leads and how?
  • What is included in our church activities and order of service?
  • How we dress is spoken of in the Scripture
  • Who is permitted to preach/teach and pray in the general service?

There is much room for creativity, personality, methodology, but there are also clear parameters in the Scripture when it comes to what we do, and how we do it.

Am I saying singing anything other than hymns is wrong? NO! But I am saying that obscuring the words with noise, entertainment, club-style “worship” is wrong. Singing songs which magnify the flesh, elevate the “worship leader”, or are full of theological errors is wrong.

Am I saying that wearing suits and long dresses to church is the only biblical model? NO! But I am saying that immodesty is always wrong, and appropriateness and giving honour to the Lord in what we wear is important.

Am I saying that short sermons are wrong? NO! But I am saying that little sermonettes from unchanged people who promote self esteem, self worth, driven by emotion, and without biblical truth are wrong.

Am I saying that women have no place in the church? ABSOLUTELY NOT! But I am saying that Scripture tells us that a woman is NOT to preach or teach in the general assembly of the church.

We do not seek to be yoked to unnecessary legalistic bondage, but we do seek the approval of Christ in what we do and how we do it.

CHURCH IDENTITY MATTERS

I hope to come to you soon, but I am writing these things to you so that, if I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth. 1 Timothy 3:14-15

Householdnot a building, chapel or cathedral, but a people, a family – the place where God dwells.

God does not dwell in a building; He dwells in His people, and when those people congregate together, there is a manner in which worship should take place.

Church – A “called out people”, set apart, holy, sanctified.

A quick survey of “church” today demonstrates a complete identity crisis. Almost every book you read on the church today deals with the importance of being relevant, culturally applicable, and interesting (and entertaining) to society.

The Bible takes a backseat (if it is even there) because it is an old book which no longer has relevance to our changing spiritual climate; Old fashioned preaching is replaced with “feel-good sermonettes”; The prayer meeting is substituted for “little talks with Jesus”; Evangelism is nothing short of inviting people to a time of entertainment, jokes, and some catchy tunes, and; the pastor is a man (or women) who is more like a Rockstar in a tank top, ripped jeans, with blonde tips, who delivers a weak, watered-down message that is unable to save souls, and then drives off in his/her corvette. This is not church. This is nothing short of blasphemy!

CHURCH DOCTRINE MATTERS

 I hope to come to you soon, but I am writing these things to you so that, if I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth. 1 Timothy 3:14-15

The last part of verse 15 is an architectural illustration. Paul likens the church to a pillar and buttress which both signify reinforcement and strength within a structure.

Pillar: A post or column most commonly associated with a large structure. E.G. The marble pillars in the temple of Diana.

Buttress: Prop, foundation, support.

In this context, Paul explains that the church is the support mechanism that God has ordained to uphold His truth. It is not that the church is intrinsically the truth, or that whatever the church does is the truth, but that it has been established as a pillar and foundation to maintain God’s truth in the world.

Take out the pillar and the building collapses, and that is precisely what we are seeing!

Interestingly, the pillar in New Testament times was also a “noticeboard” which bore inscriptions and messages for the populace. Similarly, the church is supposed to bear the inscriptions of God and make known His message to the nations.

In other words, the church has two primary functions: uphold the truth and proclaim the truth.

The church is the pillar and support of the truth because it preaches it to the world, preserves it, and transmits it from generation to generation.”

Liberal “Christians” tell us that doctrine is divisive, and we need to focus on love and good works. They are right about the divisive nature of doctrine. However, they are wrong when they suggest that love and good works can truly exist without doctrine and truth.

Jesus made it clear that true love will submit to the commandments of God: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15).

The Apostle of Love (John) wrote:
Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth (1 John 3:18).

READ 2 John – Take note of how many times the worth “truth” is used.

READ: 2 Timothy 3:10-17

We believe in the total governance, inerrancy, and sufficiency of the Scripture, and this affects what we do, and how we do it.

The Word of God promises to profit the believer in four important ways:

  1. Furnishing us with the doctrine or teaching about God, His will, His Son, His work, etc.
  2. Reproving us from wrong behaviour, error, false teaching, heresy, and the subtle tricks of the evil one.
  3. Correcting us by bringing restoration to our path when we falter, stumble or go astray.
  4. Instructing us to live in a way that honours the Lord.

 

CLOSING APPLICATION:

As the world continues in its moral decline and the “church” chases closely behind, we must be concerned with ensuring that what we do is carefully weighed against the Scriptures. Our church behaviours, identity, and doctrines need to find their source in the Word of God.

It is also important to remember that as the chasm widens between Biblical Christianity and contemporary church, we will subject to increasing hostility. This should not come as a surprise because “all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12).

Lastly, MCCBC is not the “only good church left” by any means, but it is one of the few that actively seeks to submit itself to the TOTAL governance and sufficiency of the Scriptures.

Perhaps you are visiting with us, or reading these notes online, and are looking for a good church in your area. The most important aspect of any local church is its relationship to the Scriptures. If the Word of God is not central, then that church has shifted from its primary purpose as the pillar and buttress of the truth. It may have a great youth program, skilful musicians, and lots of money in the coffers, but it is not what God intended the church to be.

May God help us to be a faithful pillar and buttress of the truth in the midst of a world that is crumbling in moral decline all about us!



^